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Reviews: Durufle: Complete Organ Works - Friedhelm Flamme

Reviews: 3

Review by July 17, 2004 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a knock-your-socks-off performance and recording! If the final Toccata of the Suite doesn't blow you away, you must be out of your sweet spot. I came to know this music through the Hyperion recording with John Scott playing the St. Paul's Cathedral Organ. Mr. Flamme playing the Muhleisen Organ on this CPO recording beats the former in every way. The bass is "tummy wobbling" as the critics like to say in Gramphone, and the treble registers are extremely clear and powerful. The Muhleisen instrument is so much more colorful than the St. Paul's: at every turn the ear is treated with amazing orchestra-like sonorities--sometimes half-lit gossamer tremoli, at other times window-shaking brass. I can't believe how much more substantial and compelling Durufle's music sounds in Flamme's hands.

Just listen to the opening of the Suite, Op. 5: A sustained note hangs over ominous utterances from down below, then come those fragments of chorale melodies, soft ones interspersed with great outbursts--very dramatic. Compared with the monochromatic Hyperion version, Flamme's urgent and unsettling performance of this Prelude is unforgettable. It is in the final Toccata that the SACD surround truly shines. Every strand of the densely arpeggiated treble breaths comfortably in its own space, while the bass melodies bellow away with complete clarity. I used to own this piece on a Delos CD as well, and while it was less muddy than the Hyperion, this CPO SACD is the most clarifying of all.

The program is arranged so that the ear doesn't fatigue; intimate pieces follow the big extrovert ones. Every piece is fascinating in its own right and each is performed with an amazing virtuosity matched by some extremely imaginative orchestrations. The price is very reasonable to boot! A must have.

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Review by FullRangeMan December 18, 2008 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Durufle (1902-1986) was a great composer for organ, he write just eight works for organ but all are hi quality, this pieces are very beautiful even if you do not like organ music.
A nice SACD to have as it contain all the composer's works for organ solo, a great performance, good PCM recording, good booklet, a good time of 66m48s and a low price.
My copy do not have EOF mark on the Stereo mix, so there is a blast of noise harmful to the speakers at the end of the disc. A fine choice for peoples that do not know or like organ music.

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Review by gonzostick July 21, 2009 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
DO NOT MISS THIS RECITAL. The organ is of recent vintage (2000) and the player is a fine virtuoso and colorist. Though the instrument tends towards the orchestral, the color of the reeds is more Germanic than is the accustomed for these works. On the other hand the plenum of this instrument blends power and transparency so well, I just love playing this with my system wide open.

The complete works of Duruflé are worthy of any organophile's library and this is a particularly fine performance of all of them, including the fiercely gossamer Prelude and Fugue on the Name of Alain, which is nothing short of spectacular. The needed stop additions at the crescendo finale of the fugue are deftly done in a performance that is nothing short of breathtaking!

The cpo recording manages to capture the presence of this fine instrument and the lovely building so well. This is one surround recording that makes one's walls disappear completely and even gives a good sense of the height of the venue.

Also, the most difficult of these works, the Op. 5 Suite, often truncated to its knuckle-busting final Toccata, is played so musically, it argues against the composer's disowning of the work in his later years.

This is nothing short of a brilliant recital. I have given copies of this disc to friends who want to show off their system. The super-deep bass (my system comfortably gets to 8Hz and organ music is very physical in my home, when played wide-open) starts with the first notes of the Op.5 Suite. The engineers have solidly captured every bit of the solid bass from the instrument, which can be a problem with some SACD issues.

Again, DO NOT MISS THIS DISC, for its sound, the lovely/brilliant playing, and the wonderful music.

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